More rules than not embed the house
Washed in end of summer set off
From the dirt road in separation

Of water from dirt the spider languishing
On the piano key seems literate
The mouse loitering in the dust

Looks like a boy
The ghosts haven’t yet decided
To stay on with the living

The field of tall grass in front
Of the Brooklin, Maine house
Stands at a right angle rules

And reminders of how to become
Delineated are a road map
Andy White warns in Section V

Against foreign languages
Ceci n’est pas une pipe
Doesn’t make the cut

The Russian Futurists’s Khlebnikov’s
Specifically prefix suffix
Root play I sneak in other examples

Of usage and style ensure
This urinal is a fountain
Give me more ready-mades

To gobble up into being clear
None of us is perfect
The walrus and the carpenter

Were walking close at hand
Who knocks no one answers
None are so fallible imagine being

Left behind what is wanted is a few
More pairs of hands the linking verb will
Agree with the number of its subject

Throwing the reader a rope
To annex meaning to the root
The dash in rule No. 8 as only it can

With economy sets off the independent
Clause taking fall in the forest as a tree
One day will fall does not repay

I am drained of vigor I returned
and saw under the sun how a story
is strange fists bloody from the fight

The heroine maintains the punch
Until the tree falls in the pine forest
And the bantam rooster fans out its tail

And then there’s meaningful
A bankrupt adjective Strunk is clear
On this and instructs the writer to choose

Another or rephrase I can’t possibly
Replace it the well is bankrupt
And the water in it is stillborn

And the faces of the fallen in
Coins washed away a picture hung
A man was found hanged by the neck

In the hallway a man hanged himself
Of his own free will in the hallway
I told a friend he hanged himself

My friend said you mean
He hung himself no that’s not
How you say it you have to get it right


Russian-American poet Stella Hayes is the author of poetry collection One Strange Country (What Books Press, forthcoming in 2020). She grew up in an agricultural town outside of Kiev, Ukraine and Los Angeles. She earned a creative writing degree at University of Southern California. Her work has appeared in Prelude, The Indianapolis Review and Spillway, among others. Poem “The Roar at Wrigley Field” is featured in Small Orange Journal anthology.